Salicylic acid is a monohydroxybenzoic acid known for its ability to relieve aches and pains and reduce fevers. Although lethal in great quantities, salicylic acid is also used as a food preservative, as a bactericidal, and as an antiseptic. However, this chemical is probably best known for its use in acne treatments. Salicylic acid is used topically to help clear pimples and skin blemishes in people who have acne. This chemical treats acne by reducing swelling and redness and unplugging blocked skin pores. Topical salicylic acid is also used to treat skin conditions like psoriasis, calluses, or warts, which involve scaling or overgrowth of the skin. Salicylic acid treats these skin conditions by loosening the dry or scaly skin so that it can be easily removed.
Many fruits and vegetables are natural sources of salicylic acid, including blackberries, blueberries, radishes, cantaloupes, green peppers, dates, guavas, olives, raisins, tomatoes, and mushrooms. A few herbs and spices naturally contain high amounts of this chemical as well.
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